When fires broke out across Sonoma County local school districts opened their doors to evacuees, used school buses to transport them and brought in kitchen staff to make sure they were well fed.
“Who knows the equipment better” Sonoma County Superintendent Steve Herrington said.
Funds for those services, plus the extensive school cleanups that followed, came directly from districts’ budgets.
This week, the California Department of Education announced an allotment of grants available to California schools impacted by wildfires last year: $14.4 million in federal emergency dollars.
Of that so far, about $2.9 million have been awarded to Sonoma County schools that applied for funding, the department of education said.
Countywide, schools’ insurance claims totaled about $13.9 million. An additional claim of $436,000 was submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Herrington said. The federal grants will cover costs incurred in reopening schools that are not paid by either insurance or FEMA.
“It’s a great sigh of relief,” Herrington said.
The allotment includes $58,810 for remedial tutoring for the students of Santa Rosa’s St. Eugene Cathedral School, where, according to the school’s application, the trauma, emotional and psychological stresses students feel in the fires’ wake have taken a toll on their grades.
“This seems to be getting worse, not better, as time goes on,” the application stated. “I recently reviewed report cards, and I was quite alarmed at how the students’ grades have fallen.”
The private school also requested $20,020 to extend counseling services for the 2018-19 school year.
Other districts requested state funds to cover overtime costs, air-cleansing machines, face masks, unexpected student transportation requirements, and installation of phone and internet lines because of campus relocations.
Santa Rosa City Schools asked for $33,560 to pay for the removal of trees burned and downed during the firestorm and $150,000 to replace instructional materials, textbooks, library books and supplies for the 850 students whose homes were destroyed.
You can reach Staff Writer Christi Warren at 707-521-5205 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @SeaWarren.